Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"Why?" An Open Forum with Ravi Zacharias

A few months ago, my good friend Dave Williams, whose blog is listed on the left hand side of my site, invited me to attend an event being hosted on the campus of Virginia Tech where he works in ministry.

After the tragic shootings of this past April, many in Blacksburg, and abroad are searching for answers. They want to know why things like this could happen. How there could be suffering in the world? How could God allow an event like this to happen? We ask similar questions to this every day. We wonder how people could starve or how people could fly planes into a building. How could God allow evil? How do we deal with disappointment?

I would love to attend the event tonight, but the trip is long, and my week (as I am sure your's is also) is extremely busy. Plus, it looks like the place will be completely packed out. Can you imagine it any other way?

Tonight, a noted theologian and apologist will come to blacksburg for an open forum question and answer session. In a short period of time, he will attempt to offer answers to some of the tough questions we often hear, or may have ourselves. That Theologian is Ravi Zacharias, and in my estimation is one of the leading religious thinkers in the world.

In a recent note on his website, he looks at how God shapes us through events in our lives. The article is a little long, but if you have the time, I highly recommend taking it to read it. He also wrote an article dealing specifically with the shootings that took place last spring, and this is also a worthwhile read, especially if the event left you with questions, Ravi candidly and honestly shares the questions that grip our minds when we are confronted with events like that.

Here's a "brief" quote from the first mentioned article.

"I was asked to speak at the United Nations for their prayer breakfast for a second time, and they gave me a tougher subject than the first one. I was to speak on “Navigating with Absolutes in a Relativistic World”—at 6:30 in the morning! I was asked to do this in twenty-five minutes and given one other requirement: don’t talk much about religion because people from all faiths will be there. I said, “I’ll do it, but on one condition. Eighteen minutes, your talk; seven minutes, why my belief in God answers these questions.” I spoke on the search for absolutes in four areas: evil, justice, love, and forgiveness.

“We all want to define what evil is,” I said. “We have people here calling other nations evil. We all want to know what evil is. You’re a society that’s supposedly looking for justice. You’ve left your families, and you miss them because you love them. And some of you are going to blow it big time with ethics; you hope the rest of your peers are willing to forgive you, and you want to know on what basis. Evil, justice, love and forgiveness.”

They’re all nodding. I said, “I want you to think for a moment. Is there any event in history where these four converged in one place? It happened on a hill called Calvary, where evil, justice, love, and forgiveness converged.”

There was pin drop silence. With five minutes left, I spoke on the cross of Christ and how the cross shows the heart of man, how the cross came because of the justice of God, how the cross demonstrates to us the very love of God, and how we find at the end of the day that without his forgiveness we would never make it. At the end one ambassador confessed, “My country’s atheistic. I don’t even know why I came here. Today I have my answer. I came here to find God.” That is the power of the cross. "-Ravi Zacharias

Like I said, the guy is brilliant. If you have the opportunity, definitely take the time to hear him in Blacksburg. Also, you may want to check out this guy's podcasts too. While this blog was meant to mainly share a little bit about the great event happening in Blacksburg tonight, it may have provoked or stirred questions in you. If it can be any comfort in the middle of wrestling with these tough questions, I want to encourage you to take advantage of the resources that are at our disposal to get those questions answered. Many great books, podcasts, websites, etc. have been dedicated to dealing with many challenges we face in a world in which we see may experience suffering and disappointment. In the end, God truly is good, and the amazing thing is that He has been there--the cross of Calvary says it all.

1 comment:

BigMama said...

I remember Nicky Gumble of Alpha talking about the "why" question as well. He asserts (and I would tend to agree) that so much of the why does God allow X to happen is solely the result of the choices people make. If God didn't allow people to make decisions for bad, how could we then also be allowed to make the decision to follow Him? I know that it's caused me, whenever I'm confronted with a why question to ask myself, "What can I do to change this situation?" Sometimes there's very little I can do, but more often than I think, there's something I can personally do to choose right in the face of someone else's wrong choice.

Of course, right now, my biggest why question is, "Why didn't I look at a weather map before I hung out this most recent load of laundry?!?"

Great to meet you this Sunday. Be blessed!